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Master Thesis / Graduation Project Applied Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme, track Applied Archaeology.


The Graduation Project Applied Archaeology is the masterpiece that demonstrates that you are capable of planning, writing, executing and reporting an academic research project autonomously, as well as taking into account the environmental conditions of the project and/or the expectations of a potential client.

The project/thesis is a contribution to an academic debate related to your career profile. You apply what you have learned so far, you gain (new) knowledge, all the while operating as an independent researcher while executing this project.
A project is based on data derived from material culture, fieldwork, laboratory or societal research, historical sources and/or academic literature.
The supervisor has to agree on the proposal before the start of the project; the project needs to be feasible and relevant, and the supervisor should be able to supervise the research topic. Therefore, the subject should always be related to the research themes of staff members from the Faculty of Archaeology/Saxion.

The research problem has to be defined in a research proposal, in which a.o. clear research questions, methodology and planning are defined. A research project should be based on a good and complete data description, in-depth data analysis and informed, well-argued interpretation. The research should be positioned in a broader field and should consist of a critical analysis on the theoretical and/or methodical perspectives that are related to the research problem.

To graduate within Applied Archaeology you can choose between 2 formats:
1. A thesis, conform the general course description of the Master thesis.
2. A graduation project in which academic knowledge and skills are used to create a ‘product’ that is focused on:

  • Policy: for example evaluating policies including recommendations, impact analyses of policy, site management plans;

  • Digital work: for example predictive modelling, landscape modelling, 3D-modelling, GIS spatial analysis;

  • Fieldwork: for example elaboration and interpretation of (a part of) an excavation, evaluation of fieldwork techniques.

The academic level of the graduation project needs to be safeguarded. That is why the graduation project also involves a written academic report of ca. 10,000 -15,000 words. That includes figures and tables necessary to support your argument (this equals roughly 20 pages of text in total, figures, tables, references and appendices not included). Please note that the length of the thesis is not a norm in itself, but too many pages are not permitted.
Part of the written report is a description of the framework in which the project is embedded, academic relevance, a critical reflection upon the framework and the project and an academic justification.

Course objectives

Ability to:

  • Independently organise, plan and execute a small research project on an archaeologically related topic, also reflecting on the stakeholders;

  • Formulate clear, adequate and meaningful research goal(s) and questions;

  • Propose, select and apply an adequate and relevant methodology. Scientific analysis of a sufficient amount of academic data;

  • Interpret archaeological and/or heritage data using sufficient and relevant primary academic literature and dealing with limitations of the data;

  • Take into account the environmental conditions of the project and/or the expectations of a possible client;

  • Have a critical attitude and use feedback of stakeholders/thesis supervisor(s) in a constructive way;

  • Relate the research to a broader academic debate and current theoretical perspectives;

  • Present the ‘product’ to various stakeholders such as clients and second examiner;

  • Present the research in a coherent, well-argued and clearly formulated text, supported by adequate tables and figures.

Time schedule

Course schedule details for thesis tutorials can be found in the MA and MSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction and supervision

You choose a subject and ask an examiner affiliated with Applied Archaeology for approval and supervision. In consultation with the supervisor you formulate a project proposal. In this proposal the following needs to be addressed:

  • aim

  • motivation

  • research question

  • project design/approach

  • realistic time frame (for commissioned projects: taking into account the deadline as set by the client)

  • which steps are necessary to execute the project within the proposed time frame

  • valorisation of the results/disseminate the results (communication plan)

The proposal needs to be approved of by the Board of Examiners.


  • Submission of the research proposal: September start > 1 November; February start > 1 April

  • Submission of first draft: September start > 1 May; February start > 1 November

  • Submission of final version for assessment: September start > 15 June; February start > 15 December

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • Academic paper of ca. 10,000 -15,000 words & product (10 ec);

  • Ca. 280 hours of individual research for the project (10 ec).

Assessment method

The graduation project with an academic report is graded based on the following elements:

  • The student is able to determine the necessity and/or usefulness of a product and, in conjunction, to formulate an objective;

  • The student is aware of any relevant scientific insights and ongoing discussions pertaining to the intended product;

  • The student is able to trace, document and value academic literature on the chosen subject;

  • The student is capable of interpreting and summarising scientific data and academic debates and rephrasing these for the intended audience and stated objective;

  • The student is capable of transforming the acquired knowledge into a product that is effective in both form and presentation;

  • The student is capable of judging the resulting product on its merits and of judging to what extent said product has achieved the intended objective, and where it falls short the student is capable of formulating possible improvements;

  • The student is capable of reporting on the execution of the project in a coherent and structured manner and of reflecting on it to an academic standard.

See the faculty website for thesis guidelines and assessment criteria.

Retake of the thesis/graduation project: should you receive a fail for your thesis, you have 6 weeks after receiving your result to make improvements. The new grade will have a maximum of 7.0. If you fail this new version, you need to write a new thesis/graduation project on a new subject.

Please note:
The graduation project should always be defined, reported and assessed as a separate educational component, even when a close substantive or organisational connection with an internship is present. When a student foresees that his internship activities will play a role in the content of the graduation project, he/she discusses that point with his/her (intended) supervisor, and they agree on the desired elaboration. For example, an internship report may have the status of an appendix to the MA thesis.

Deadlines for the thesis:

  • June 15th: for graduation at the end of August

  • December 15th: for graduation at the end of February

Reading list

To be compiled by the student, depending on thesis subject.


For more information about this course, please contact drs. R. (Richard) Jansen.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Examination is also possible in Dutch.